Reigning champ 2021-2022. Invest in StartEngine
Reigning champ 2021-2022. Invest
Get iOS App Sign Up
July 19, 2023 | 9 Min Read

Interview with Harrison Gross, CEO & Co-Founder Innovative Eyewear

Interview with Harrison Gross

Interview with Harrison Gross, CEO & Co-Founder Innovative Eyewear

Smart glasses developer Innovative Eyewear recently completed a $7.35 million IPO, on the heels of two regulation crowdfunding rounds on StartEngine in 2020 and 2021. We sat down with co-founder and CEO Harrison Gross to dive into the good, the bad, and the ugly of his experience on StartEngine – how he leveraged crowdfunding to refine his product, and eventually prepare to list on the NASDAQ.*

Here’s what he had to say…

Q: In a sentence, could you describe what Innovative Eyewear does?

A: We develop, manufacture, and sell smart eyewear products and companion software. Our goal as a company is to really create the first mass market smart eyewear product that’s suitable for all-day prescription use.

Q: As you know, founders have a lot of options when it comes to where and how to raise capital. Why did you choose to do a regulation crowdfunding round and why did you choose to partner with StartEngine?

A: Absolutely. Our product is a consumer product, not a B2B product. It’s meant for regular eyeglass consumers and crowdfunding was identified early on as a great way to involve consumers in the development of the product – not just in helping fund it, but also really informing the use cases, the feature set, and styles of glasses. So, it was a useful exercise and about 4,000 people joined our first StartEngine campaign.

They really contributed to the development of the product in numerous ways – from funding the actual R&D, to participating in surveys and focus groups on different styles of glasses. This informed our manufacturing and overall direction. It was an all-around great experience that helped us develop this product, which is in a new category. There wasn’t a whole lot to go on out there in terms of what direction we should take the product in. The main impetus for doing a crowdfunding campaign was to build a community around what we were doing and use that community’s insights to build a better product.

Q: You mentioned involving your community investors in some of the R&D. How did you collect info from the investors and how did that relationship develop?

A: As part of the campaign, we offered a free pair of glasses to anyone who invested $500 or more, so many of the people that participated in the campaign received the product once it was available. This allowed us to gather a lot of information based on those initial deployments from the free pairs that we gave out as part of the crowdfund. It was a useful tactic to get the glasses into hundreds of people’s hands immediately after the product was available.

Q: Can you speak a little about your experience working with the StartEngine team?

A: The awesome landing page we put together with StartEngine gave us our first true investment vehicle for people to come and join our mission. This made microcap investments very digestible and appealing to the average retail investor.

StartEngine, among all the crowdfunding platforms we evaluated, was the best at productizing the investment opportunity and turning it into an attractive, digestible package. Someone could spend 20-30 minutes going through the landing page, reading some of the filings, and have a solid grasp of what the company is all about – where we’re going and what we’re doing. The platform tied together the team, the tech, and the story, which I believe are the three most important things when it comes to a crowdfund. StartEngine, in our view, does this better than anyone else.

Q: As you know, launching a regulation crowdfunding offer is still a substantial undertaking. Could you elaborate more on that?

A: There are benefits and caveats to consider. As you said, it is a heavy lift. It requires significant team resources to manage and start a campaign – to create it, market it, and respond to comments. On the other hand, there’s a major benefit in that the advertising for your crowdfund also attracts regular customers to your product. So, the ad dollars you’re spending to drive traffic to your campaign count double, especially if you have a live product. We did, and the campaign drove sales of our existing products. That was a benefit we saw by already having a live product when we started.

Another major benefit is that it really unifies the company because it aligns everyone on the vision. Much of that is due to the landing page. But it also crystallizes the founders’ ideas into a clear path forward for the company. Before the crowdfund, everything was nebulous and different executives had varying visions about where we were going and what we were trying to achieve. But the crowdfund forced us to put our goals and benchmarks on paper and hold ourselves accountable to them, to do justice by our crowdfund community.

Q: A lot of founders are hesitant to share their financials prior to a community round. Was that a concern for you? If so, how did you overcome that?

A: We always planned to go public at some point. So, we understood early on the need for excellent documentation on the company, to have all our filings in line, and so forth. In many ways, going live on the Reg CF was like a Little League IPO. It has a lot of the light version of requirements you’d see for an IPO, like Form C filings and so on. So, it was a great exercise for us because it prepared us for what it’s like to go public. This was really a leg up to help us get to our long-term goal, as the process is very similar to a junior IPO.

Join Harrison and over 1,000 founders who’ve completed successful funding rounds on StartEngine. Apply today.

Q: What was the transition like going from ending your community round to preparing for your IPO?

A: Well, things are a little bit different for us as a tech company. Our focus is on tech hardware and software. The transition involved relentless R&D. What enabled us to go public was this critical mass of technology that we had built in the company…No one player dominates this emerging and contested field of tech hardware yet, but that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re competing against a lot of multibillion-dollar tech companies in this space.

After we raised the initial capital on StartEngine, we developed a significant upgrade to our core product line, the Lucyd Lyte® glasses…Though the revenue for a public company was not very high, the R&D we accomplished, the product development, and a few other things we did, helped kick off the IPO.

The initial community we built was instrumental in this whole process, providing product feedback and helping us get the product to a point where it could go fully mass market. Our newest models, which launched three months ago, are best in class, and this can be traced back to the initial product development through the crowdfund. Essentially, it allowed us to kickstart the R&D in a big way and develop this technology that gives us a unique competitive advantage.

Q: Could you expand on how the new model of the Lucyd glasses is differentiated from prior models? Were there any examples of input from your crowdfunding investors that drove the ultimate design?

A: Yes, absolutely. The model we launched after the crowdfund was groundbreaking. It was closer to a normal pair of glasses than any other smart eyewear on the market at the time. A couple of groundbreaking things about the Lyte 1.0 were that we achieved a one-ounce weight for the glasses, on par with traditional eyewear, and about seven hours of music playback per charge, which was longer than most other smart glasses. But the most significant improvement was the style upgrade – it was lighter and looked better than other smart glasses.

Feedback from our crowdfunders made it clear that people wanted smart glasses that look like trending styles in traditional eyewear. This informed our product’s style over the last few years. Our most popular product is just a black wayfarer. It looks good on men, women, young people, and older people. It’s a style that works well in the American market. Despite suggestions from my European team members for more avant-garde styles, I’ve found that Americans prefer simpler styles that go with every outfit.

This insight was born from the crowdfund where we essentially had a focus group of thousands of people at once. We put up a standard-looking aviator with smart features, and people were instantly interested. So, we manufactured it and brought it to market.

The crowd fund community greatly helped inform the product development. One of the biggest issues in smart eyewear is that most products are being designed by consumer electronics teams who know little about eyeglasses. A great pair of smart glasses starts with great optics. If you don’t have a good foundation, the product dies in the market.

Q: As a closing question, do you have any advice for first-timers in the space of crowdfunding?

A: Firstly, you have to be sure you want to do this because once you start, you have to go full bore. The whole team has to be on board and push it forward. Secondly, have a great product in the works, a great team, and a great story about how you’re different. Be willing to go the distance with your crowdfunders as they will want ongoing support and information about how things are going. Lastly, assess your resources before you start, as crowdfunding requires more resources than, say, Kickstarter. Have some energy and capital to get started, and with the right team, tech, and story, it should work out.

Want to raise your own round of capital?

Or, even if you’re still on the fence, apply today to speak with one of our fundraising specialists about how we can support your business.

*This testimonial may not be representative of the experience of other issuers and is not a guarantee of future performance or success.

Want to stay up to date with the latest posts from StartEngine? Sign up here:

You May Also Like

Important Message


Unless indicated otherwise with respect to a particular issuer, all securities-related activity is conducted by regulated affiliates of StartEngine: StartEngine Capital, LLC, a funding portal registered here with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and here as a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), or StartEngine Primary, LLC, a broker-dealer registered with the SEC and FINRA/SIPC. You can review the background of our broker-dealer and our investment professionals on FINRA’s BrokerCheck here. StartEngine Secondary is an alternative trading system regulated by the SEC and operated by StartEngine Primary, LLC, a broker dealer registered with the SEC and FINRA.

Investment opportunities posted and accessible through the site are of three types:

1) Regulation A offerings (JOBS Act Title IV; known as Regulation A+), which are offered to non-accredited and accredited investors alike. These offerings are made through StartEngine Primary, LLC (unless otherwise indicated). 2) Regulation D offerings (Rule 506(c)), which are offered only to accredited investors. These offerings are made through StartEngine Primary, LLC. 3) Regulation Crowdfunding offerings (JOBS Act Title III), which are offered to non-accredited and accredited investors alike. These offerings are made through StartEngine Capital, LLC. Some of these offerings are open to the general public, however there are important differences and risks.

Any securities offered on this website have not been recommended or approved by any federal or state securities commission or regulatory authority. StartEngine and its affiliates do not provide any investment advice or recommendation and do not provide any legal or tax advice with respect to any securities. All securities listed on this site are being offered by, and all information included on this site is the responsibility of, the applicable issuer of such securities. StartEngine does not verify the adequacy, accuracy or completeness of any information. Neither StartEngine nor any of its officers, directors, agents and employees makes any warranty, express or implied, of any kind whatsoever related to the adequacy, accuracy, or completeness of any information on this site or the use of information on this site. See additional general disclosures here.

By accessing this site and any pages on this site, you agree to be bound by our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, as may be amended from time to time without notice or liability.

Canadian Investors

Investment opportunities posted and accessible through the site will not be offered to Canadian resident investors. Potential investors are strongly advised to consult their legal, tax and financial advisors before investing. The securities offered on this site are not offered in jurisdictions where public solicitation for offerings is not permitted; it is solely your responsibility to comply with the laws and regulations of your country of residence.

California Investors Only – Do Not Sell My Personal Information (800-317-2200). StartEngine does not sell personal information. For all customer inquiries, please write to

StartEngine’s Reg A+ offering is made available through StartEngine Crowdfunding, Inc. This investment is speculative, illiquid, and involves a high degree of risk, including the possible loss of your entire investment. For more information about this offering, please view StartEngine’s offering circular and risks associated with this offering.

StartEngine Marketplace

The availability of company information does not indicate that the company has endorsed, supports, or otherwise participates with StartEngine.

None of the information displayed on or downloadable from (the 'Website') represents a recommendation, offer, or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any security. It also does not constitute an offer to provide investment advice or service. StartEngine does not (1) make any recommendations or otherwise advise on the merits or advisability of a particular investment or transaction, or (2) assist in the determination of fair value of any security or investment, or (3) provide legal, tax, or transactional advisory services.

All investment opportunities are based on indicated interest from sellers and will need to be confirmed.

Investing in private company securities is not suitable for all investors. An investment in private company securities is highly speculative and involves a high degree of risk. It should only be considered a long-term investment. You must be prepared to withstand a total loss of your investment. Private company securities are also highly illiquid, and there is no guarantee that a market will develop for such securities. Each investment also carries its own specific risks, and you should complete your own independent due diligence regarding the investment. This includes obtaining additional information about the company, opinions, financial projections, and legal or other investment advice. Accordingly, investing in private company securities is appropriate only for those investors who can tolerate a high degree of risk and do not require a liquid investment.

StartEngine Marketplace (“SE Marketplace”) is a website operated by StartEngine Primary, LLC (“SE Primary”), a broker-dealer that is registered with the SEC and a member of FINRA and the SIPC. StartEngine Bulletin Board ("SE BB") is a bulletin board platform that advertises interest in shares of private companies that previously executed Reg CF or Reg A offerings. SE BB enables shareholders to communicate interest in potential sales of shares in private companies and investors to discover, review, and potentially invest in private companies. As a bulletin board platform, SE BB provides a venue for investors to access information about private company offerings and connect with potential sellers. SE BB is distinct and separate from StartEngine Secondary (“SE Secondary”), which is an SEC-registered Alternative Trading System (ATS) operated by SE Primary. SE Secondary facilitates the trading of securities by matching orders between buyers and sellers and facilitating executions of trades on the platform. While a security may be displayed on the bulletin board, these securities will be subject to certain restrictions which may prevent the ability to buy and sell these securities in a timely manner, if at all. Even if a security is qualified to be displayed on the bulletin board, there is no guarantee an active trading market for the securities will ever develop, or if developed, be maintained. You should assume that you may not be able to liquidate your investment for some time or be able to pledge these shares as collateral.

Invest in StartEngine

190% YoY Growth: Invest in the leading equity crowdfunding platform.

This Reg A+ offering is made available through StartEngine Crowdfunding, Inc. This investment is speculative, illiquid, and involves a high degree of risk, including the possible loss of your entire investment. For more information about this offering, please view StartEngine’s offering circular and risks associated with this offering.


Kevin O’Leary is a paid spokesperson for StartEngine. Read the 17(b) disclosure here.

Founder's Summit Application